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How Long Does CBD Stay in Your System?

how long does cbd stay in your system

Just as plant-based therapeutics are often a personal wellness journey, CBD and other cannabinoids takes a long — and often varied — journey through the body, from intake to its final release from your system. To effectively assess cannabinoid’s bodily breakdown, it helps to trace the experience from the very beginning and take note of the numerous variables that can affect how long it takes to feel the effects of cannabidiol, how long those effects last and, ultimately, how long the cannabinoid stays in your system. 

The Basics: How CBD Works With the Body

Cannabidiol (CBD) is a prevalent, naturally occurring cannabinoid derived from cannabis plants which, as the Medical Cannabis Network points out, is often researched for its potential benefits with aches, discomforts, sleep, stress and more. While cannabidiol is a non-intoxicating cannabinoid that doesn’t make you feel “high,” it exerts its effects by interacting with the body’s built-in endocannabinoid system. Essentially, cannabinoids such as CBD interact with the numerous receptors linked to the endocannabinoid system — primarily CB1 receptors in the central nervous system and CB2 receptors of the peripheral nervous system —  to send signals that influence actions in the body’s many regulatory systems. 

When Are the Effects Felt?

According to Healthline, it’s common to feel the restorative effects of cannabidiol within 15 minutes of smoking, vaping or sublingual (i.e., a few drops under the tongue) usage, while edibles and topical products may take about one or two hours to kick in. The key differentiator here is the delivery method; topical treatments must pass through the pores while oral cannabidiol must pass through the digestive system to the bloodstream, for instance. The Center for Advancing Health breaks down estimated onset time by type of delivery method like so:

  • Sublinguals (sprays, strips, oil): 10 to 20 minutes after administration.
  • Topical creams, lotions and balms: 10 to 90 minutes after contact with the skin.
  • Oral capsules and edibles: 20 to 90 minutes after ingestion.
  • Vaporized CBD: within minutes of inhalation.

How Long Do The Effects of CBD Last? 

As a very general rule of thumb, it’s normal to feel the continued effects of cannabidiol products for as little as two to as many as six hours at a time. In outside cases, that range may widen on both the long and short ends, from as short as a single hour to as long as 10 hours. Just as is the case with onset of the effects, though, this duration is significantly affected by factors such as delivery method, dosage, concentration, body weight, age, metabolism, hydration levels and the quantity and quality of foods recently eaten.

How Long Does CBD Stay in Your System?

Typically, cannabidiol does not show up on common drug tests when that CBD is truly free of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the key psychoactive component of cannabis — even trace amounts of THC, though, can lead to a positive result. Testing aside, cannabidiol may stay in the body for a fair length of time. 

In a 2018 systematic review published by Frontiers in Pharmacology, researchers pinned down cannabidiol’s half-life — meaning the amount of time required for the concentration of a substance to be reduced by one-half —  in the body to be roughly two to five days when taken orally, with more variance in other delivery methods. As a general rule of thumb then, cannabidiol can remain in the body for up to two weeks. 

On more macro levels, a 2016 study from the Journal of Pain Research finds that while cannabidiol can appear in urine a few hours after intake, it is not likely to appear in urine samples 24 hours after intake. On the opposite end of the spectrum, CBD can be found in the hair for up to three months after it was last taken. 

Important Variables

The higher the dose of cannabinoids, the longer it stays in your system. Likewise, frequent use typically means a longer stay in the system, while occasional use tends to clear the body more quickly. Just as is the case with onset and duration of cannabidiol’s effects, factors such as age, weight (especially as fat-soluble cannabidiol is stored in fatty tissue), body mass index, hydration, metabolism, delivery method, dosage amount and concentration can all affect how long CBD stays in your system, as Discover magazine reminds us. On the latter note, taking cannabidiol into the lungs encourages it to leave the body more quickly, while CBD consumed orally lingers longer as it has been absorbed into the bloodstream. 

Naturally, CBD is a personal experience for every individual. We encourage you to reach out to a cannabinoid-trained nurse for a guiding hand on your cannabinoid journey.  

Dan Ketchum is an LA-based freelance lifestyle, fashion, health and food writer with more than a decade of experience. He’s been fortunate enough to collaborate and publish with companies such as FOCL, Vitagenne, Livestrong, Reign Together, Out East Rosé, SFGate, The Seattle Times and more.